An Insight Into the World Cup With Park Mun-sung
The Russia World Cup has finally arrived. News and talks on the predictions of the World Cup are pouring out. ST met Park Mun-sung, who is a SBS sports commentator, in order to get an insight into the World Cup..............................................................................Ed
The Festival World Cup will be held in Russia from June 14, 2018 to July 15, 2018. It has always been a huge interest in the World Cup how Korea would perform and how the World Cup would be. Therefore, ST invited Park Mun-sung, a SBS sports commentator who graduated from the Accounting Department of Soongsil University.
ST: Can you give us your thoughts on the group stage of Korea in the Russia World Cup and predict Korea’s performance?
Park Mun-sung: In regard to the grouping, I think all of the European teams are strong competitors. In the previous World Cup in Brazil, the Asian teams did not win a single victory. Now is the time for us to refrain from becoming overconfident and face the reality of competing with 2 European teams and 1 North American team. In this regard, I feel that predicting the results of the World Cup has no significant meaning, and we should focus more on passing the group stage and stepping onto the knockout stage. In order to accomplish that, our first priority would be to win against Sweden, which is considered the weakest among Germany, Sweden, and Mexico. However, it seems really difficult for Korea to step onto the knockout stage. If Korea manages to pass the group stage, 1 win, 1 draw, and 1 loss seem like the best scenario.
ST: Which teams do you think would compete for the World Cup title?
Park Mun-sung: I think Germany and Brazil are the strongest opponents. They have always had the strongest organizational power. Of course, other teams, such as Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and France, may win the World Cup, but I feel like they would end as one big threat to Germany and Brazil.
ST: What about Belgium?
Park Mun-sung: Some people are expecting that Belgium is going to win, but I feel like one strong power is missing in order to win the World Cup title, even though there are talented players like Kevin Debruyne, Lukaku, and Hazard. I am anticipating Belgium to reach the semi-finals at best.
ST: VAR(Video Assistance Reference) is being introduced in the Russia World Cup for the first time in World Cup history. What do you think about the introduction of the VAR?
Park Mun-sung: There is a constant debate about the introduction of the VAR, but I agree on it. Of course, the VAR may stop the game for too long and the flow of the game may be interrupted. However, I think it will be resolved in the near future. For example, when cars first appeared, there were many debates as to whether it is best to get rid of them or not because of the accidents, but now they remain as a tool of convenience that we never want to part with. Likewise, the VAR may cause some issues in the initial stage, but I think it will eventually settle as part of the historical trends.
ST: Some external variables, such as the Vuvuzela and Jabulani, affected the performance of the players during the South Africa World Cup. Is there anything important that the players should adapt to in the World Cup in Russia?
Park Mun-sung: I think all players have to adjust to similar conditions. One variable could be the soccer ball. It is said that the ball bounces really well and the goalkeepers are considerably worried about it. They say that it is hard to catch the ball when a player is kicking a mid-range shot because it is difficult to predict the direction of the ball. The second is the moving variable. Russia is so large that it is very difficult to move around. Some places between the stadiums are said to have an uncomfortable mode of transportation. As Russia is geared toward Europe, I think it is a little advantageous for the European players, but it could be difficult for the South American players.
ST: Is there any game or episode that has remained in your memory while broadcasting many games in World Cup?
Park Mun-sung: In the World Cup, I can remember the game between North Korea and Portugal. North Korea lost this game 0:7. I just really felt emotional while I was watching the game. One episode that I can remember in the World Cup was that the French team caster had a list of players, such as KIM, LEE, and PARK. He asked me, “Really? You guys have the same names?” I said, “Yes.” We laughed a lot.
ST: Do you have your own philosophy on interpreting games?
Park Mun-sung: I can think of only one thing. The main characters are not the soccer commentators, but instead, the soccer players, soccer supervision, and the game itself. The game can become blurred if the soccer commentators stand out too much. In particular, I try to match the direction of the viewers’ eyes and my listening skill. I try not to disturb the viewers while they are watching the players run on screen.
ST: You have majored in accounting, but you are now working as a soccer commentator. SSU has many students who are not compatible with their major. Can you give some advice to those students?
Park Mun-sung: I hope that you are not stressed out by your major. There are so many people who did not become an accountant, even though they majored in accounting just like I did. If you have something that you want to do, it is important that you try it for yourself. No one knows whether it will work or not. It takes a lot of guts to try what you want to do and to stop when you have failed. I hope that everyone in SSU will live a life without regrets.
Yun Ji-hui (Planning Editor)
Kim Ki-bum (ST Cub-Reporter)